Connective Computing, Inc. Sat, 05 Dec 2015 17:01:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Li-Fi Lights the Way to a Faster Internet-Connectivity Future Sat, 05 Dec 2015 16:00:00 +0000 In a handful of offices and industrial facilities in Estonia, wireless data communication speeds reach 1 GB per second. Think Wi-Fi on ...]]> Li-Fi_Lights_the_Way_to_a_108570_201307In a handful of offices and industrial facilities in Estonia, wireless data communication speeds reach 1 GB per second. Think Wi-Fi on steroids, at 100 times the bandwidth of average current wireless connections, and it’s all done without the traditional support technologies that underlie Wi-Fi installations. Magic? No, it’s Li-Fi, short for visible light communication, or VLC. Li-Fi operates at frequencies vastly beyond today’s wireless spectrum, and it soon may revolutionize the speed and security with which you connect to the Internet.

In 2011, Professor Harald Haas, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, showed that he could exceed the data transmission of a cell phone tower with a single flickering LED transmitting a futuristic equivalent of Morse code. In the lab, VLC can operate at 224 GB per second. In the real world, Velmenni, a burgeoning company based in Estonia, became a finalist in a business startup competition in Helsinki, Finland, for its Li-Fi technology, and has begun pilot programs in Talinn, Estonia. Professor Haas has launched his own company, which offers a secure, plug-and-play wireless Internet connection operating at a Wi-Fi-like 11.5 MB per second. In France, Oledcomm is installing a Li-Fi solution for use in hospitals.

Li-Fi uses visible light at frequencies between 400 and 800 terahertz. The LEDs in a Li-Fi installation flicker at ultra-high speeds, transmitting binary code to move data through the air. These Li-Fi LED lamps flicker so quickly that the human eye perceives them as staying on continuously. Along with vastly superior speeds, Li-Fi exceeds Wi-Fi’s security capabilities because it uses light, which doesn’t penetrate through walls, keeping networked data safe within an office or factory.

Don’t look for Li-Fi to supplant Wi-Fi in the next five minutes, however. Replacing Wi-Fi would require a big investment in infrastructure to install Li-Fi instead. Until or unless that happens, regular lighting devices can serve as Li-Fi technology. Each lamp or light fixture would need a retrofitting microchip to enable it to transmit pulsed data rather than simply provide light. Another solution would combine Wi-Fi and Li-Fi into networks that could leverage each technology’s strengths.

If Li-Fi technology does catch on in the not-so-distant future, look for the LED light bulb in your desk lamp or track lighting to double as an environmentally friendly wireless data transmission and reception device. That’s a dual role that neither old-fashioned incandescent bulbs nor compact fluorescent lamps can undertake, further evidence that investing in green alternatives to environmentally wasteful lighting technologies can pay off in many forms of savings.

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Keep Your iPhone Hack Proof Fri, 04 Dec 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Whatever tech gadgets a small business owner chooses, keeping your contacts and content secure should be a number one priority. Many consumers ...]]> Keep_Your_IPhone_Hack_Pro_108688_201557Whatever tech gadgets a small business owner chooses, keeping your contacts and content secure should be a number one priority. Many consumers love the versatile features and quality of Apple products but worry about security. Keep your iPhone or iPad safe from hackers and other prying eyes by following a few simple steps.

Choosing a password that is hard to guess is imperative. The iOS 9 lock screen now defaults to a six-digit PIN requirement, instead of four, increasing the number of possible combinations for the minimum-length PIN. Be sure to choose a PIN or alpha-numeric password that you can remember but others won’t guess.

Another feature you may want to adjust the location settings so that all of your contacts on Facebook and Twitter cannot track your every move. Some people love having their whereabouts tracked, however many professionals do not want all of their contacts to know they are at the beach when waiting for their phone call to be returned. Privacy options are easy to configure on your iPhone or iPad. Just adjust the privacy settings if you want to use the location feature for tagging photos, viewing your local weather, tracking your fitness activity or using your GPS, but turn off this feature for contacts, and social media apps.

If your iPhone is stolen, the first thing a tech savvy thief will attempt to do on his way to the pawn shop is disable tracking by bringing up the Control Center and disabling GPS location. The best way to prevent this is to disable the Control Center on the lock screen. To do this, simply go to settings and select the Control Panel icon and then turn off the Lock Screen Access feature.

App-specific passcodes are considered by some to be a pain to use, but many have found the extra effort worth the increased security.

As with other devices that access the web, be sure to only use websites with https in their prefix instead of http. Downloading a virus or having your data stolen can undermine your security efforts and compromise the integrity of both you and your clients.

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Google Hangouts Just Got A Lot More Convenient Thu, 03 Dec 2015 16:00:00 +0000 As of late, those who do not have a Gmail account may access Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts is a popular web conferencing ...]]> Google_Hangouts_Just_Got__108875_201870As of late, those who do not have a Gmail account may access Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts is a popular web conferencing app by the search engine giant of the same name. While its user base is huge and is constantly growing, one group of people have always been turned away from using it – those without a Gmail account. While one can simply get around this by (you guessed it) making a Gmail account, it can be troublesome to those who wish to conference with others who do not have an account. Now, however, this is no longer an issue. Presumably in response to consumer complaints, Google has lifted the requirement of having a Gmail account when using the app, although users may still want to create an account to take advantage of all the app’s features.

How Does It Work?

While the organizers of Google Hangouts sessions (or hosts, if you will) are still required to use a Gmail account, others joining the session don’t have to worry about whether or not they have an account. As long as the organizer sends the person in question an electronic invite, they are able to join the hangout in just a few clicks as a “guest.” These guests can join through any platform (of the web or mobile variety) with ease and without the hassle of creating a new account just to access a hangout or two.

Those without accounts who are invited as guests will have some limited privileges relative to everyone else. For starters, they won’t be able to join and sessions without an invite. While this isn’t a huge issue for formal web conferences, it’s still worth mentioning. Also, those without accounts will be unable to host hangouts or send invites to others who would log in as guests. For this reason, it is still probably a good idea for professionals to set up an account.

What Does This Mean?

Google Hangouts, while already an easy, convenient web conference app, just became a whole lot easier. Businesses are already using Google Hangouts for formal web conferences while more and more are jumping on the bandwagon all the time – and for good reason. With this step having been taken by Google, things just became a whole lot easier and, for that reason, we may see a lot more businesses switching to Google Hangouts. In contrast to many other similar apps which require use of the designer’s hardware (such as needing an iPhone or iPad to use Facetime), Google Hangouts is standing out among web conference apps as one of the best. If you haven’t tried Google Hangouts, now is definitely the time to do so.

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Facebook Quizzes – More Intrusive Than You Might Think Wed, 02 Dec 2015 16:00:00 +0000 If you have more than two or three Facebook friends, odds are good that at some point, you’ve gotten someone’s quiz results ...]]> Facebook_Quizzes_____More_108894_201890If you have more than two or three Facebook friends, odds are good that at some point, you’ve gotten someone’s quiz results on your wall. One of your friends took a quiz and found out which Lord of the Rings character they were most like, or what words they tend to use most often in conversation, or any number of other things.

Sometimes the quizzes are actually marginally entertaining, but how much are you willing to pay for that few minutes of entertainment?

If you haven’t actually stopped to read the privacy policy and details on information collected by the company offering these quizzes and simple games, you really should. You’ll be shocked at what you discover.

Before you can take the quiz in question, the app that drives it will ask if it can connect to your Facebook account. Occasionally you’ll be able to pick and choose what specific data the app can have access to, but most of the time, you won’t have that option, and the app will quietly gather your birthday, home town, likes, photos, complete friends list, and more.

If you think that sounds pretty intrusive for a simple quiz, and you’re suddenly wondering what the owners of the app might do with all that information, you’re not alone, and are right to be concerned. While most of these companies “promise” they won’t sell your data, they also have built into their terms of service that they have the right to keep it forever, even if you deactivate your Facebook account. It’s not an unfair question to ask what they plan to do with all that data on you, if not eventually sell it to someone else. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much point in collecting it to begin with, right?

All that to say, be very careful about taking Facebook quizzes. Yes, they’re sometimes cute and humorous, but how much information are you willing to give up to find out what color you’re most closely associated with, or whether you’re more like Gandalf or Frodo? Information is currency. Guard yours carefully.

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Why Firewalls Matter for Your Company Tue, 01 Dec 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Firewalls don’t get a lot of press, and some people figure if you have some or other antivirus software, that’s all the ...]]> why_firewalls_matter_106469_197753Firewalls don’t get a lot of press, and some people figure if you have some or other antivirus software, that’s all the protection you need. Unfortunately, that’s very far from the truth. No matter how little press time they get, firewalls are, or should be, an important part of your overall security setup.

First, if you have an antivirus program installed, running, and up to date, good for you. An estimated one quarter of all internet users don’t even bother with that , so you’re ahead of the game if you do. It’s true, running any antivirus program will slow your system down a bit. For most of us, that’s not really an issue. The computers we have on our desktops are so powerful that we typically on use a fraction of their capabilities. The only people for whom this isn’t true are gamers, who routinely give their machines good workouts that push them to their limits, but if all you’re doing is checking your email or browsing Facebook, you have nothing to worry about. All that to say that for the vast majority of us, the slight degradation in system performance isn’t a valid reason not to install some kind of antivirus protection.

The good news is that a decent antivirus program will protect you from a significant percentage of attacks, but by itself, only represents a partial solution. It’s like a knight going into battle with his shield raised, but no armor. In order to get the best possible protection, a firewall is needed. Firewalls in the digital world act a lot like their real world counterparts. In a building, a firewalls compartmentalize a building, so if a fire starts in one section of the building, the whole thing won’t go up in smoke. Same idea where your computer is concerned, except in the case of your computer, what the firewall is doing is monitoring network traffic looking for patterns it hasn’t seen before. For example, if you don’t normally get lots of incoming traffic from Latvia, and you suddenly start, a properly configured firewall will block that traffic and flag it for your review later.

Fortunately, almost every computer sold today comes with firewall software built-in. The default settings allow pretty much anything to get through, so you do have to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the system and configuring it to provide a reasonable level of protection, but all told, that should only cost you about an hour’s worth of time. Isn’t protecting all the data on your system worth at least that?

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iPhone Bags 92% of Smartphone Profits, Sells 14% of World’s Smartphones Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, indicated that when he started the company, he would have been happy selling a mere ...]]> the_iphone_bags_92Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, indicated that when he started the company, he would have been happy selling a mere 1 percent of the world’s mobile phones. As Apple creeps up in popularity and now dominates 14 percent of the smartphone industry, the company is thriving more fiercely than Jobs could have ever imagined.

In the early days, Jobs focused on profit over market share, and this strategy seems to have paid off as the iPhone provides Apple with 92 percent of their operating income and is among the world’s top smartphone makers, even though they only corner a small percentage of the world market. For example, Samsung controls about 25 percent of the market but makes significantly less profit on each device. In contrast to Apple’s figures, Samsung’s phone sales only total 15 percent of their total sales, and -4 percent for Microsoft.

A report conducted by Canaccord Genuity tracked several years of activity in the mobile industry. The numbers are based solely on the sales of phones, and the report does not include sales through the App Store or iTunes.

Experts at Canaccord Genuity believe that Asian companies, such as Xiaomi, may begin to gain market share. In addition, some Asian companies are also trying to up their long-term profits on not only their smartphone sales, but app and service sales as well. However, China is currently second to North America sales of the iPhone (32 percent), which currently clocks as 22 percent of all phones sold in the country.

However small the iPhone’s market share, Canaccord Genuity believes that the larger screen of the iPhone 6 will attract Android loyalists. Their survey and report indicates that the larger screen makes the iPhone 6 more attractive, as do the upgraded features and increased power of the phone overall. Time will tell if this trend continues and the iPhone continues to increase both profits and market share.

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OK Google, “Where is My Phone?” Fri, 27 Nov 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Google has introduced a new feature that harnesses the power of a fully integrated platform-to-platform system. As long as your smartphone is ...]]> google_enablesGoogle has introduced a new feature that harnesses the power of a fully integrated platform-to-platform system. As long as your smartphone is running Android and has GPS location enabled, you can now Google “where’s my phone?” and get an accurate answer.

While a number of Android users have already discovered and used this feature with ease, it used to require a login to the Android Device Manager, which can only be accessed from another mobile device or through Google Chrome. For those of us who have multiple mobile devices or use Chrome on our computers, this is trivial; for those who depend on smartphones for everything, this can be a challenge. While the new method isn’t foolproof, it does give you another method to find your phone.

If you find your phone, and it’s not in a secure location – or the person who has it is trying to hock it for a few dollars – you can click on the map and it will redirect you to the Android Device Manager. There, you can wipe your phone or “brick it,” which results in a lock that shuts down all function to your phone. This option allows you to choose a password that must be entered to unlock the device, a message to anyone who may have your phone, and a phone number that can be called with a push on the screen. In addition, you can “ring” your phone, which, regardless if it’s on vibrate or not, results in a ring (just in case you’ve just lost your phone in your house and don’t have another device to call it).

The feature is accurate to about 23 meters, which means that if you feel inclined, you can have a small scavenger hunt with your phone and your kids, employees, or other group as part of a training exercise or just for fun.

The company says that they may have plans to be able to track other devices as well in the future, but for now, it only works for GPS-enabled mobile devices.

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iPad Pro vs. Surface Book Pro – Which Is Better For Enterprise? Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Since Apple and Microsoft both launched their latest products, comparisons have been inevitable. The two tech giants are slowly moving toward the middle, ...]]> the_ipad_pro_vs_the_surf_106463_197747Since Apple and Microsoft both launched their latest products, comparisons have been inevitable. The two tech giants are slowly moving toward the middle, with laptops like the Surface Pro becoming more like tablets, and tablets like Apple’s iPad becoming more like laptops. The question that naturally arises then is, which one’s better for you and your business. For the moment, at least, the answer is definitively the Surface Pro, by Microsoft. Below, we’ll tell you why.

It’s true that the Apple iPad Pro has a lot going for it. Size and weight-wise, it compares favorably with the Surface Pro, the latter being marginally larger and offering a slightly larger display and a higher resolution, but neither to such a degree that it makes much difference. No, the things that make the Surface Book the better choice for business use are “under the hood,” so to speak.

First and foremost, there’s the OS. iOS is great, fairly intuitive and great for home and small set-ups, but it’s just not an Enterprise-level OS. Windows 10 is, and it’s something that tech managers the world over are used to, because Windows 10 is the latest in a long line of operating systems that have been running business since the dawn of the computer era. iOS has fewer native, Enterprise-level security or access control features, and the iPad Pro can run only apps, while the Surface Book can run apps and full blown programs designed to run on PC’s. Productivity Apps are quickly getting better, but they still can’t touch the robust functionality of the productivity software running on today’s PCs. Despite improving apps, Apple’s new product has a ways to go yet before it can truly be said to be a replacement for your laptop.

The other drawback to the iPad Pro as an enterprise-level device is its relative lack of extensibility. In terms of RAM, hard drive space and processor speeds, the Surface Book wins hands down. In addition, the Surface Book comes standard with two USB ports, meaning you can add your own peripherals to the device at will. The iPad Pro has no USB ports and presently lacks the plug-and-play features of the Surface Book.

There’s a lot to like about the iPad Pro. By any reckoning, it’s an excellent machine, and a lot of people will flock to it and enjoy using it. One thing it can’t do at this point is replace your current laptop. Not quite yet anyways.

The day may come when Apple’s lively app store finally delivers robust productivity apps that can compete with or even outperform desktop or laptop versions. Apple may make changes to iOS to make it more useful to conventional, wide-spread enterprise environments, but until and unless those things happen, Apple’s going to remain largely on the outside looking in where business is concerned, and the iPad Pro doesn’t change that this time around.

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Shifting to EMV Chip Cards: What You Need to Know Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:00:00 +0000 October 2015 marked the start of a new era in the world of payment by card. The switch to EMV cards is ...]]> facts_about_the_switch_to_emv_chip_cardsOctober 2015 marked the start of a new era in the world of payment by card. The switch to EMV cards is well underway, and it’s important to be aware of what they are and why the change is being made.

What Does EMV Mean?

EMV stands for EuroPay, MasterCard and VISA. EMV cards are equipped with computer chips that are used for transactions instead of using the traditional strip-swiping method. Instead of swiping, a card holder will insert the side of the card containing the chip into a small slot and wait a few seconds for it to process. Users will still sign or enter PINs depending on the credit or debit status of their cards. The computer chips are much more difficult to counterfeit than the magnetic strips. The difference is this: the magnetic strips of traditional cards hold unchanging data about the information necessary to buy things, while the computer chips generate one-time codes for each transaction.

Why the Switch?

Statistically, nearly half of the credit card fraud in the world occurs in the United States. This is an astronomical number, and after incidents such as the post-Thanksgiving Target breach of 2013 (which resulted in as many as 40 million cards being compromised), security has never been more important. Once hackers have access to the unchanging information transferred by a traditional strip, it can be used against the holder’s will until that card is cancelled. The one-time codes generated by the chip cards cannot be copied because they cannot be reused for new transactions, making them a much safer alternative. This is a huge move toward preventing catastrophes such as the Target breach from happening.

What Does This Mean for Business?

The answer is simple. It is time to move toward a safer option for card purchases, and swiping will eventually become a thing of the past. Experts say that business owners should prioritize the installation of chip-reading technology. Customers are going to start desiring (and expecting) the extra security provided by chip-reading, and switching to EMV technology as soon as possible will help business owners stay ahead in the competition.

People already have the holidays on the brain, and the insane shopping season is commencing. The last thing people want to worry about during this time (or any time) is the safety of their bank account information being compromised. These breaches are detrimental to business. The added security of EMV chip cards can benefit business owners and consumers alike during the holidays and year-round.

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3 Tips for Better Presentations Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:00:00 +0000 On average, it takes less than half a minute for an audience to gauge the worth of a presentation. You heard it ...]]> better_presentationsOn average, it takes less than half a minute for an audience to gauge the worth of a presentation. You heard it right: if people aren’t interested enough, they stop listening before the end of an introduction. When it comes to presentations, first impressions matter. Here are a few ways to help make sure your audience will care about what you have to say.

Don’t Introduce Yourself

Time is important, so get right to the point. When people introduce themselves, they oftentimes rattle on about things that don’t matter, such as how nervous they are or how happy they are to be there that day, or what an honor it is to present in front of such a lovely group of people. That’s part of your half a minute. If possible, get someone else to introduce you, because they’ll get half a minute and you’ll get half a minute too. Your intro should be a few hundred words or fewer so your audience gets a gist of who you are before you begin to speak, but they don’t know everything there is to know – that’s what your presentation is for.

Save Your Jokes

Your audience probably will not appreciate an initial joke as much as you might hope. Actually, this isn’t entirely true. Lots of audiences appreciate warm up jokes, but they appreciate a good sense of humor throughout a presentation even more. If your presentation is otherwise dull, a joke at the beginning isn’t going to do a whole lot to keep people engaged for the next half an hour while you talk. People are used to corny, silly jokes at the beginning of presentations and have come to expect them. If you actually have a good joke, it might be different. However, most of the time those jokes are making fun of the situation at hand, which just makes you look nervous (whether you are or not). Surprise your audience and incorporate your sense of humor into all of your presentation.

Hold Off On The Background Story

If you have a background story for your company that you think is important, you should definitely have that information available to your audience on their pamphlet. Otherwise, skip it. Unless your audience knows why your company’s history is important, they won’t treat it as important. You can always talk more about your company somewhere in the middle of the presentation, or you can always talk about it a little as you go. If something is relevant, don’t be afraid to mention it – but if it isn’t, just leave it out to make your presentation even tighter and more easily consumed.

A good presentation doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is a work of art in many ways. Skipping over some of the more traditional things included in presentations, such as lengthy introductions, corny jokes and a ton of background story will help you create a memorable presentation people want to listen to.

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